Learning to code might seem like an intimidating or daunting skill to acquire no matter your age, let alone be something suited for children. However, it can be an incredibly useful discipline that radiates throughout your child’s life into other areas of their academic studies. Coding makes kids better problem-solvers, teaches teamwork, organizes thinking, and is a valuable lifelong skill to learn as programming becomes an increasingly integral part of the working world.
Choosing the right programming language for kids will depend on their age, their expressed interests, and any past experience they may have working with code or computers. From simpler block-based programming languages for kids to more advanced concepts, iCAMP offers courses and camps for children of all ages and capabilities. In our guide below, we break down some of the benefits of coding, how to choose the best programming language for kids, and tips for a smart approach to learning.
Parent’s guide to kids programming languages
Coding languages are still languages, though they differ from a spoken language in that they don’t have dialects or actual sounds you would pronounce. Because of the logic-based nature of coding languages, relying on basic rules to function as any other language would, they can be very straightforward for children to learn. In this nature, some might consider learning such languages similar to how they would learn a game.
Depending on the age of your child and their prior experience, they could be ready to learn coding techniques used by professional software engineers and developers. These skills will carry over into other areas of their life and help them get ahead in an increasingly valuable and competitive field. The difficulty then comes with the question, “where is the best place to start and when?”
Choosing the right coding language for your kid
Believe it or not, your child can start learning to code as early as 5 years old, with many interested kids starting between 7 and 12 years old. iCAMP offers coding classes for kids online, from fun and engaging activities teaching coding basics to advanced story and game design. No matter what coding language for kids you choose, programming should be fun and inspire students to use technology in new, creative ways.
When choosing the best programming language for your child, first consider their age, how much prior experience they have with coding, and their ongoing interests. Children learn best when they feel connected to and excited by what they’re doing. If they like to play lots of video games, for example, and want to learn to code, then a Minecraft coding class might be the best fit. If they’re still very new to coding, you may consider Sprout.
Finding the right coding language and course for your child is important so that they don’t feel like they’re in over their heads, or bored with topics they’ve already learned in-depth. It also increases the chances of your child meeting peers who share similar interests and experiences. Look for programming language classes that involve hands-on experiences and active learning.
Best visual coding language for kids: Scratch
Scratch can be a great place to start learning to code because of how visual it is, offering drop and drag coding blocks that allow children to animate their own games and stories. This kind of coding is perfect for young children or children without any prior programming experience as it teaches basic coding concepts and other important skills like problem solving.
Scratch coding classes are well-suited for visual learners or people who learn well through interactivity. If you’re looking for the easiest programming language, or the best programming language for kids who are younger, Scratch can provide a great foundation.
Best coding language for beginners: Python
Python is not only a great programming language for kids but also is used in professional environments. Use Python to create animations and work with simple game design. This language is especially well-suited for children who want to see quick results or want to work with a programming language that closely resembles English. Python coding classes are great for any child interested in science or pursuing a career working with artificial intelligence.
Our Python coding class for kids is intended for students between the ages of 8 and 14 who already have some experience working with code. Python provides a good stepping stone from block coding to writing code, involving concepts such as object-orientation, visual interfaces, and more advanced game design.
Best programming language for gamers: Lua
Lua is another great kids programming language well-suited for beginners. It’s easy enough for kids to learn, is straightforward, fun, and powerful enough that it’s used by professional developers for making video games. Lua can be used in Roblox Studio to build compelling and interesting games and adventures; it’s often considered among the best programming languages for kids.
For those interested in game programming or learning a programming language quickly, Lua and Roblox coding classes offer a great starting point relevant for years to come. It’s also a great language for children to learn before or after studying Python. The two languages resemble each other in that both eliminate syntax issues, which can be a point of struggle for most novice learners.
Best programming language for intermediate learners: Java
Java can be an especially appealing language to children who like video games as it is the language of Minecraft. When a player starts to dig deeper into the game, they usually begin to investigate “mods” or modifications, which gives a player the ability to change and customize the game. To add a mod though, the player needs to use code, namely Java. This means that though Java is not always the kindest language to beginners, it’s easier for children to pick up as they can learn while playing video games.
Java is also widely used in the workforce, and learning it early on will put your children ahead of the curve and set them up for success down the road. After learning Java, your child could create anything from a phone application to a text-based game.
How to teach programming languages to children
Teaching kids to code can feel overwhelming with so many different options to choose from, whether at home or through coding classes and camps. Despite the popularity and increasing relevance of programming, it’s not something commonly taught until high school. Free games online can be a fun, engaging way for kids to learn some coding basics.
Coding camps are also a great solution for teaching your child to code. They offer the chance for your child to meet potential friends interested in similar topics and also to have a hands-on learning experience with the aid of knowledgeable teachers. These camps are offered in-person and online, throughout the year or as a summer camp, meaning it should be easy to find one to work with your schedule. For children who learn better in a one-on-one environment, look for private online classeswith options for a customized curriculum and an emphasis on personal connection.